A tale of two parenting moments.
Tale one: Maggie is turning eight on Monday (oh holy God, where does the time go?!) and due to scheduling with friends and activities, today was the best day for the party. Maggie became very upset with me, in ways that manifested as not…quite an attitude befitting the honoree, let’s say.
“Sounding like an ungrateful smartass who was getting a bowling birthday party and was acting pissy that it wasn’t on the exact day she wanted it” would be another way to say it.
I think one of the things I struggle with the most as a parent is remembering to look at causation. Maggie is not an ungrateful or materialistic child, as a general rule, so my first instinct to react to that behavior as a patron would react to a spoiled artist was not correct. We hashed it out and I went down that road for a while, and I realized I needed to circle back around.
This is when I discovered my poor child was literally terrified that she was going to get in trouble–trouble on par with police and handcuffs–for having a birthday party almost a full week before her actual birthday. Cause discovered; cause dealt with. Party thoroughly enjoyed. Mom did not day-drink.
Tale two: I made a rule with the big girls that unless it’s a friend they know well and really trust, their bedrooms can be off-limits for play dates and I would enforce that. They each have special toys and items they don’t want to share in their rooms, and we have had kids over who don’t have good boundaries yet (like going through the girls’ piggy banks to look at the money inside, um, NOPE) that the girls would like to play with and share their playroom with, but not their bedrooms. One neighborhood boy came by to play and he was quite insistent that he wanted to play in Moira’s room. The conversation went like this:
Boy: But I really want to play in your room.
Moira: That’s my private space to be alone with my special things.
Boy: BUT I WANT TO PLAY UP THERE!
Moira: No. [thinks a moment] But you can look at my room from the yard!
That was around 4:30 today and I’m still laughing. The conversation went on, and Moira stood firm. I would have intervened if I thought she needed me, but it was clear that she had it handled. She maintained her position, and I was very pleased to note that she didn’t apologize for it. She never said “Sorry” for setting her boundary. She stated where her line was, and she held it without apologizing for having a reasonable position. May she always walk with such confidence.
I told her as much, and that I had heard how she was firm without being mean, and stood her ground without letting someone make her feel guilty. How proud I was that she stuck to what she wanted and was strong.
“I was sticking to you and what you told me.”
And then my heart exploded and that was the end of me. RIP, me.
As these little people move out of the tiny years and into the people they are becoming, these moments come up and you realize how much they’re listening. How much they’re absorbing. And sure, they’re kids, so that means sometimes they haven’t got the sense God gave a box of hair clippings.
But sometimes…sometimes you get to see that you’re really hearing them, and that they are really hearing you. And it’s enough to turn a rough morning into a fantastic day.